VOL. 5, NO. 2

"Have your tenants or office workers had these symptoms: nausea, fatigue, sinus congestion, dizziness, eye irritations or coughing and sneezing attacks? If so' the problem may be tiny airborne particles in the ducts or toxic emissions from paints or carpet. Each day, everyone in your workplace inhales two tablespoons of dust particulants. In fact, indoor concentration of pollutants can be up to 100 times greater than outdoor concentrations. Building owners and managers throughout America are searching for solutions to this "sick building syndrome." One place to begin looking may be looming directly over head in acoustical ceiling tile and HVAC ductwork (heating, ventilation and air conditioning). Acoustical ceiling tile is porous and soft so it acts like a sponge. It absorbs air particles such as, nicotine, dust, pollen, cooking grease, and other harmful odors. It also absorbs harmful pollutants like those found in most paints and carpet fibers. Any chemicals used for cleaning are absorbed by the ceiling tile.
Where does all this dirt and moisture come from? Dirt can come from construction debris, poorly filtered air, and a variety of other means. Moisture is always present in air conditioning systems from condensate pans and high humidified air. Another source of the problem for the "sick building syndrome" is in the building ductwork. Mold and mildew growth are rampant. Dirt and moisture support mold growth. high humidity sections of the HVAC system. Next, replace or clean existing ceiling tiles. Painting over the existing surface only traps the pollutants to ensure they will be around for a long time. Old surfaces can be cleaned by removing dust particles then applying a non-toxic cleaner to displace stain and sanitize the tiles. Remember, any surface can support mold and mildew growth. Generally, the rougher and more porous the surface, the greater the possibility of mold and mildew growth. Currently there are no regulations that state buildings must use anti-microbial materials. However, only a few years ago lead paint and materials containing asbestos were outlawed. In the near future it may be mandatory to use anti-microbial materials that keep bacteria and fungi from growing. There are anti-microbial paints, wall coverings, linoleum and carpets currently on the market for those wanting an alternative. Unless you choose anti-microbial material your best keys for solving your indoor air problems are: good design, construction, equipment and maintenance.
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Don't let those dirty ducts quack you up. There are ways to control mold growth and other pollutants. First, start with proper HVAC system design. Provide access for routine or periodic cleaning. Keep all air filters clean. Use the highest efficiency mechanical equipment possible. Periodically clean coils, drip pans, and other

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